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Make Sure Your Design Is in Service to Your Concept

We can't emphasize enough the importance of staying closely tethered to purposes for which the site was conceived in the first place. In writing this, we are keenly aware of how many misguided attempts to be different—to "break through the clutter" or adopt the latest technology—have resulted in web site designers failing to remember how important it is for their site to be in service to the following:

  • The audience
  • The goals the site is trying to achieve
  • The brand
  • The industry

If the site is intended to sell Armani, it had better look "Armani." If it is an educational site, it must convey an image of intelligence and knowledge—intangible elements that are not simply built into perceptions of a store. If the site is an extension of an offline brand, it must successfully convey the image of that brand. And if it is a financial services site, it shouldn't look like a disco (too funky or far out in its design and color scheme) to foster the seriousness of a place people trust with their money.

Also, some designs "fight" communication of what a site is all about. We've seen several sites use a magazine format on the homepage, which obscures the fact that the site is primarily an e-commerce site that also has editorial content to support the selling effort. When a user sees a "magazine," she thinks "this is a place to read articles about cosmetics, not necessarily to buy them."

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